The Seattle Times reports this morning that U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA) challenging a Seattle City Council mandate requiring grocery store workers to be paid $4 an hour in "hazard pay" on top of their usual wages.
In his opinion, the judge wrote, “Given the City’s findings that large grocery businesses have earned record profits during COVID-19 … and that grocery store employees are at significantly heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 … This is a reasonable grounds for the distinctions drawn in the Ordinance."
The story says that "The law applies to large grocers, those with more than 500 employees worldwide and stores larger than 10,000 square feet, in Seattle. It mandates a $4-an-hour pay boost for all workers in retail locations. And that pay boost must remain in effect for as long as Seattle remains in a declared civil emergency.
"The City Council passed the wage hike law unanimously in late January, after advocacy from the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21."
Similar hazard pay mandates have been passed by lawmakers in a variety of California communities.
- KC's View:
Just because a judge tossed the lawsuit doesn't make the mandate smart or good public policy. It just means the mandate isn't illegal.
Can't imagine that the folks bringing lawsuits challenging hazard pay mandates in California are heartened by this ruling.